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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"
Progressing Beyond the Cork Experience
22 November 2002

The introduction of screwcaps as an alternate seal has been met with a wide reaction by the wine loving community.

Perhaps the most interesting one to me is the reaction of those who say that the introduction of screwcaps will destroy a key element of the romance of wine, that of the act of removing the cork. Without the act of the cork coming out, the wine experience just isn't the same.

This aspect has been seized upon by the marketeers of cork as a key benefit, particularly as they can't point to many other aspects of cork being an effective seal for wine compared to the screwcap, both for short term and long term aging of wine.

However as to the emotional aspect of cork I can sympathise with the reaction against change for the better.

When the inner sleeve of LP Records changed from wax paper to poly plastic sleeves a real sense of history and emotion was lost. The paper sleeve had been there since sound recording changed from cylinder to flat, as such part of the emotional joy of playing a record, that of removing from the sleeve and placing it the turntable was lost.

However the true joy of an LP record is all about the sound.

However I soon realised that the benefits of an antistatic poly sleeve far outweighed any emotion tie to the paper sleeve. The sleeve finish was far smoother, thereby reducing minute scratches into the surface that comes from the paper. It's also better for long term retention of the quality of the sound.

It's the music that matters. There is still the joy of holding the LP sleeve, seeing proper sized artwork, getting the record, cleaning it and placing it on the turntable, moving the tone arm and lowering the stylus to the groove, then appreciating the music with a glass of great, aged, taint-free wine.

Know what I mean?

As such I enthusiastically welcome the introduction and growth in the use of screwcaps as a seal for wine, in preference to cork. Being a Riesling lover I'm seeing the early benefits of the conversion to screwcaps, particularly with the splendid 2002 Rieslings from the Clare Valley, and with the preferences being displayed by consumers here I expect it will continue to expand in future vintages.

(listening to Steely Dan's Aja at 33 1/3)
People may use a LP-CD analogy for the change from cork to screwcap. This isn't the case, LP to CD is a change in the manufacturing process, perhaps that would be a better analogy to the use of reverse osmosis and micro oxygenation.

© Murray Almond
22 November 2002

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